Sunday, June 3, 2012

National Cancer Survivors Day

Today was National Cancer Survivors Day, with many communities having a gathering of some sort to honor, support and encourage those who have survived cancer.  To be honest, I am so busy living life, that I have never taken the time to participate or really even think about this day.  (After all, cancer has taken enough of my minutes.) 

However this morning, I read a thought provoking blog writen by my friend Marie, along with some interesting follow up comments regarding this national holiday.  (The post I read is http://journeyingbeyondbreastcancer.com/)  Marie shared how some individuals struggle with the word survivor.  Marie challenged us with these questions, "Is the word survivor just another label, or is it a word to be embraced?" 

Here is my response to Marie:

Shortly after I was diagnosed and someone first called me a survivor, the hairs on my neck stood up. I found myself wrestling with the term? After all, I didn't do anything special.  I was diagnosed with cancer.  I did the treatment that was needed to try and save my life. Finally,  I looked up the definition of survivor. According to www.freedictionary.com the definition of survivor is:
1. To remain alive or in existence.
2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere
3. To remain functional or usable:

I, personally, don't see anything wrong with these definitions of survivor, and would say that all three definitions describe some part of my cancer journey.  At times, for lack of better words, I have called myself and others, "survivors." For many of us, the cancer journey did and continues to provide hardships in our lives that many others don't or won't have to face. I don't believe this makes us better or worse, it just is...

We have two major hospitals in our area, and I was invited to both of their "National Survivor Celebrations" today. I declined. It's not that I am against the day or their choice to celebrate...to be honest, I am too busy celebrating the blessing of living.

How about you, what are your thoughts using the word "survivor" to describe someone who has or is walking the cancer journey?

5 comments:

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Kim, I hadn't thought of it since I haven't been asked to carry this particular cross at this point, anyway. But it was a nice reflection, and I liked the definitions of survivor. They seem to fit the people in my life who have gotten on the other side of this disease. I'm so glad you're out there living life!

Deana said...

The closest experience I have had to this journey is walking alongside my mother as she walked this road. My first reaction to the term, "Survivor," is "absolutely but there is more." My mom is so much more. It was indeed a difficult journey but one of many. Mom survived diabetes, a paralyzing virus, blocked arteries and us four kids to name a few. In other words Mom has survived a number of challenges, but Mom is also a visionary, a dreamer, an advocate, an incredibly supportive mom and a minister of the gospel of Christ.

I guess what I am trying to say is that Mom deserves to be recognized as a survivor, just as so many of you do, but there is a much more to her. Behind every survivor there is a long beautiful story and a future full of possibilities.

My friend, Kim, you are an inspiring survivor as well as a strong and healthy woman with many dreams yet to fulfill. Your trials have made you stronger and you are a different person from them. You have a lot more labels ahead for you and full of possibilities!

Susan Stilwell said...

Hi Kim,

To me, the word "survivor" conjures an image of someone who's fatigued from a battle and can barely make it to their feet. And I've walked this road with enough friends to know that's exactly how you feel some days.

But seeing what y'all go through - physically, emotionally and spiritually - I kinda think you should be called Conquerors!
~SS

Vicky said...

Why is it there are so many emotionally charged "words" associated with the cancer journey? I think I've learned mostly, that the journey is as many ways different as it is the same for so many of us. And until you've walked a few steps past a diagnosis you don't always know how you will feel about something? Survivor brings up images of being done with something- and I guess I am surviving- still in the process. I guess I am a little like you in that I don't get too caught up in it as I am mostly out there living life!

Dianne Duffy said...

I'm not too keen on the word "survivor" either. It reminds me that now I am just "surviving" after all I've been through.

Before cancer, I was "living".

I like that better...

Dianne